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Top baby foods are contaminated with dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals, with amounts of arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury routinely found in excess of recommended limits, according to a new review of baby-food companies’ internal testing by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

The Congressional study was launched after Healthy Babies Bright Futures’ 2019 study finding heavy metals in 95% of baby foods tested drew widespread attention to the problem. All but nine of the 168 tested baby foods contained at least one of these four toxic metals. And 87% of foods tested contained more than one toxic heavy metal.

The new Congressional report finds that companies routinely ignore internal standards and fail to test their finished, processed products, leading to the use of contaminated ingredients and additives and unknown amounts of heavy metals in the final mixtures that babies eat.

"This compelling new evidence lays bare FDA’s clear failure to protect babies from the toxic heavy metals in their food,” says Charlotte Brody, National Director of Healthy Babies Bright Futures. “While FDA studies the problem and companies set lax internal standards, millions of babies are exposed to these contaminants every day. It is time to step up and finally take clear action.”

“The science on these toxic metals is clear: there is no question of the harm they cause to babies’ developing brains,” added Jane Houlihan, HBBF’s Research Director. “Parents can only do so much to shop their way out of this problem. We need fast action by FDA and baby-food companies to protect our vulnerable infants."

As part of our commitment to the health and safety of baby food, HBBF is a member of the Baby Food Council. The Baby Food Council is a group of infant and toddler food companies, supported by key stakeholders, that has begun development of a Baby Food Standard and Certification Program aimed at reducing heavy metals in baby foods to as low as reasonably achievable. 

To learn what parents can do to keep babies safe, visit our fact sheet here

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